When my younger granddaughter was four years old, she completed a large wooden puzzle all by herself and shouted: I’m awesome!
She enjoyed it so much, she dumped out the pieces and put it together a second time, again shouting: I’m awesome!
I loved her exuberant sense of pride and self-esteem. What a great reminder to all of us who often forget how awesome we are. Why are we so hard on ourselves? And how long will my granddaughter’s self-love last knowing the pressures girls face about their self-esteem?
I thought about the bigger issue of our own self-esteem and how incredibly hard we can be on ourselves. I turned to a book on my shelf: Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves: Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar by Amy Ahlers. Before we can be positive role models for our daughters and granddaughters, we need to love ourselves and believe that we are awesome.
Ahlers writes that we all engage in beating ourselves up both for the big things and for the tiniest imperfections. It wasn’t so long ago that women were banding together to win the right to vote, and now here we are powerful and free … and totally miserable. It’s high time we went easy on ourselves, just for the sheer joy of it and yell: I’m awesome!
In her book, Ahlers reveals the culprit in all of our negative self-talk: Our Inner Mean Girl. She compares your worst to everyone else’s best. In her eyes, you lose every time. Your Inner Mean Girl’s favorite thing to do is to make you feel small, inadequate, and unworthy. She’s always finding evidence to prove her theory: you are not enough.
We need to take a lesson from our awesome grandchildren, who still believe in themselves, and recognize that our Inner Critic is a Big Fat Liar! Sadly, we are all conditioned at an early age to believe the lies we’ve been told from direct and indirect sources, and most of us continue this for a lifetime.
But once we realize how to catch our Inner Critic in the act, we can change our inner dialogue and be that awesome role model for our grandchildren. As author and artist, SARK writes in the foreword: There is nothing more detrimental than believing the kind of lies we tell ourselves, then living out the results of thinking that way. Lack of self-love and self-worth is a profound epidemic passed on through the generations, unless people are shown how to live differently.
Ahler’s book presents 59 lies divided into sections that include self-worth, body, success, money, relationships, being authentic, and spirit. Each chapter lists the lie and then the truth, along with a challenge to help you put the truth into action. An affirmation at the end helps you lock in the truth.
Ahlers offers a three-step process to practice whenever you feel any painful emotions or the presence of your Inner Mean Girl:
- Step One: Ask yourself, “What is my Inner Mean Girl saying?” Really articulate that voice in your head and the sad words you’re telling yourself. Often just hearing the words aloud will wake you up and shake you out of your emotional slump.
- Step Two: Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What does my Inner Wisdom know?” (What would you tell your grandchild if she felt this way?) And then let your Inner Wisdom speak—not platitudes or forced optimism but rather the Truth about who you are and what your soul’s purpose might be in this moment.
- Step Three: Let your Inner Wisdom’s Truth take root by repeating it back (aloud if possible), accompanied by a physical gesture to really lock in the message. (You could tap your heart or touch your belly.) Attaching a physical gesture not only deepens the learning, but it also gives you a movement to engage in whenever you are feeling angry, upset, or sad.
By recognizing your negative thoughts as Big Fat Lies, you can tap into the truth about who you really are: a magnificent, fabulous, amazing woman with so much to offer the world and your awesome grandchildren, too.
Set an example for your child or grandchild. Let them hear you tell yourself: I’m awesome!